Celebrating the Summer Solstice: Traditions and Festivities in 10 Countries Around the World

The arrival of the summer solstice marks the longest day of the year and is a special occasion celebrated in various cultures worldwide. For our LGBTQ women’s community, these festivities offer the opportunity to immerse in unique traditions and discover places filled with history and magic. Join us on this journey through ten countries, exploring how they celebrate the summer solstice and the curiosities surrounding these festivities.

1. Sweden: Midsommar

Traditions and Curiosities

Midsommar in Sweden is one of the country’s most important festivities, celebrated on the Friday closest to June 24. The festivities include the construction and decoration of a maypole (midsommarstång) with flowers and leaves. Families and friends gather to dance around the maypole, sing traditional songs, and enjoy a feast of herring, new potatoes, meatballs, and strawberries. Midsommar is also associated with fertility and good luck rituals, such as jumping over flowers to ensure a happy marriage.

Popular Places:

Stockholm: Skansen, an open-air museum, offers an authentic Midsommar celebration with dances and music.

Dalarna: Known as the heart of Midsommar festivities, where the oldest traditions are preserved.

2. Spain: La Noche de San Juan

Traditions and Curiosities

La Noche de San Juan is celebrated in Spain on June 23 with bonfires on the beach and rituals that attract good luck and purification. It is common to see people jumping over bonfires to ward off evil spirits and bathing in the sea at midnight. The festival includes music, dances, and fireworks, creating a magical and festive atmosphere.

Popular Places

Barcelona: Barceloneta beach becomes a huge party scene with music and bonfires.

Alicante: Las Hogueras de San Juan is a spectacular event with parades, papier-mâché sculptures that are burned, and intense social activity.

3. United States: Solstice in Times Square

Traditions and Curiosities

In New York City, the summer solstice is celebrated with the Solstice in Times Square event, where thousands of people gather to practice yoga outdoors from dawn to dusk. This event promotes peace and meditation, offering a tranquil pause in the city’s hustle and bustle. Additionally, it celebrates community and connection with the urban environment.

Popular Places

Times Square: With its vibrant energy and continuous activities during the solstice.

Central Park: Ideal for enjoying a day outdoors, with multiple events and picnics.

4. Canada: Festival de Saint-Jean-Baptiste

Traditions and Curiosities

In Quebec, the Festival de Saint-Jean-Baptiste is celebrated on June 24 and coincides with the summer solstice. This event honors francophone culture with parades, concerts, fireworks, and community events. It is a festivity that highlights the pride and cultural identity of Quebec, with activities for all ages.

Popular Places

Quebec City: The Plains of Abraham are the epicenter of the celebrations, with concerts and large-scale events.

Montreal: With a festive atmosphere and a rich offering of cultural activities.

5. United Kingdom: Stonehenge Summer Solstice

Traditions and Curiosities

The summer solstice at Stonehenge is a mystical and unique experience. Thousands of people, including druids, neopagans, and curious onlookers, gather at this ancient monument to witness the sunrise when the sun aligns perfectly with the stones. This tradition has deep roots in history and spirituality, connecting attendees with the past and nature.

Popular Places

Stonehenge: A historic site that attracts crowds during the solstice for a transcendental experience.

Avebury: Another megalithic site with similar celebrations but less crowded.

6. Mexico: Fiesta de San Juan

Traditions and Curiosities

In Mexico, the Fiesta de San Juan is celebrated on June 24 with various traditions, including dances, music, and water rituals. People soak themselves in rivers, lakes, or the sea to purify and attract good luck. The festival is also known for its religious processions and community events that strengthen social and cultural ties.

Popular Places

Oaxaca: With its colorful celebrations and rich cultural traditions.

San Juan Chamula: An indigenous town known for its unique rituals and mystical atmosphere.

7. Finland: Juhannus

Traditions and Curiosities

Juhannus in Finland is a festival celebrating the summer solstice with bonfires, saunas, and music festivals. Lakeside cottages are popular destinations, where people gather to enjoy nature, swim, and relax in the sauna. Bonfires, called kokko, are lit to ward off evil spirits and celebrate light and life.

Popular Places

Helsinki: With numerous outdoor events and festivities.

Lake Saimaa: An ideal destination for a tranquil and traditional escape.

8. Brazil: Festa Junina

Traditions and Curiosities

Festa Junina in Brazil celebrates Saint John and other popular saints with traditional dances (quadrilha), typical foods, and bonfires. The festivities include the construction of small wooden huts, games, and live music. It is a vibrant celebration that highlights rural traditions and Brazilian folklore.

Popular Places

Campina Grande: Known for having one of the largest and liveliest Festa Junina celebrations in the country.

Recife: Another city with colorful festivities and deep-rooted traditions.

9. Peru

Traditions and Curiosities

In Peru, the summer solstice, which occurs around December 21 in the southern hemisphere, is an opportunity to honor Andean cosmovision and celebrate the power of the sun, a central deity in Inca culture.

Inti Raymi: The Festival of the Sun

Although Inti Raymi, the Festival of the Sun, is traditionally celebrated on the winter solstice (June 24), the practices and spirit of reverence toward the sun also influence summer solstice celebrations. During Inti Raymi, the Inti, the sun god, is honored, and thanks are given for the harvest and fertility of the land. The festivities include dances, music, and rituals that attract thousands of visitors to the ancient Inca capital of Cusco.

Ceremonies in Sacsayhuamán

The archaeological site of Sacsayhuamán, near Cusco, is one of the most emblematic places for solstice celebrations. Here, ceremonies are held to thank the sun and seek blessings for the new agricultural cycle. These ceremonies, led by Andean priests, include offerings of coca leaves, chicha (a fermented corn drink), and other symbolic elements. The rituals aim to connect participants with cosmic energy and ancestral spirituality.

Astronomical Observation in Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, the iconic Inca citadel, also has a strong connection with astronomical events. During the summer solstice, the Temple of the Sun in Machu Picchu is aligned so that the first rays of the sun pass through a specially constructed window, illuminating a sacred rock inside the temple. This alignment shows the Incas’ deep astronomical knowledge and their ability to integrate architecture with celestial cycles.

Rituals at Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca, considered a sacred place in Andean cosmovision, is also a scene of important rituals during the summer solstice. Indigenous communities living around the lake perform ceremonies to honor Pachamama (Mother Earth) and Inti. These rituals include preparing offering tables with food, flowers, and ritual objects, presented in gratitude for blessings received and to seek a prosperous year.

Celebration Curiosities

The Sun and Agriculture: For the Incas, the summer solstice marked the beginning of the rainy season and the preparation of the land for cultivation. This period was crucial for ensuring a good harvest and community survival.

Spiritual Connection: Solstice celebrations are not only festive but also have a profound spiritual dimension. The rituals are designed to maintain the balance between the human world and the cosmos, reinforcing harmony with nature.

10. Japan: Summer Solstice and Tanabata

Traditions and Curiosities

In Japan, the summer solstice is a time to celebrate the connection with nature and spirituality. Although not as prominently celebrated as in other countries, it coincides with festivals like Tanabata, which takes place in July. Tanabata celebrates the meeting of two lover stars, and people write wishes on strips of paper that hang on bamboo branches. It is a festival that combines romance and spirituality.

Popular Places

Kyoto: With cultural events and traditional ceremonies.

Sendai: Known for its large Tanabata festival, with colorful parades and decorations.

The summer solstice is a festival celebrated in fascinating and diverse ways around the world. From the vibrant bonfires of San Juan in Spain to the mystical ceremonies at Stonehenge, each tradition offers a unique and enriching experience. Which tradition captivated you the most? Visit our trips page to book your next trip and take advantage of special offers during Pride Month. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience these festivities in person and create unforgettable memories in destinations full of history and charm.

Summer Solstice Curiosities

Did you know...

...that in some places in Norway, such as the Lofoten Islands, the summer solstice brings the phenomenon of the midnight sun? For several weeks, the sun never sets completely, allowing for 24-hour daylight. This phenomenon is a fascinating tourist attraction and a unique experience for those  visiting the Arctic Circle during the summer.

Did you know...

...that the Incas had an agricultural calendar based on the observation of the sun and stars? Inca priests, called amautas, were experts in astronomy and used the sun's position at the solstice to plan agricultural and ceremonial activities for the year. This ancestral wisdom continues to be a vital part of the cultural identity of Andean communities.

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At Lesmon Experience, our mission is to create safe, inclusive, and empowering travel experiences for LGBTQ+ women worldwide. We are dedicated to designing culturally enriching trips in collaboration with our local suppliers. Our goal is to celebrate diversity, foster meaningful connections, and promote positive social change through every journey we create. Through our commitment to sustainability, authenticity, and community engagement, we strive to be a trusted ally and advocate for LGBTQ+ women travelers, empowering them to explore the world with pride and confidence.